New Jersey culinary program supports successful offender reentry

A culinary program in Monmouth County, N. J., is not only aiding in successful offender reentry, it’s strengthening the relationship between the Neptune City Community Resource Center and the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission, a recent customer of GEO Reentry Services.

Recently, the Monmouth County Food Bank, which regularly works with the Neptune City CRC, held their thirty-eighth Culinary Skills program graduation for their 13-week course where participants learn the skills necessary to obtain employment in the culinary field.

One of those graduates was Carl Aliwalas, a client at the Neptune City CRC, who was referred to the center by the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission. After meeting with his case manager, Kalen Macon, Aliwalas agreed that he would be an excellent candidate for the culinary program, and though scores of applications were sent from applicants in both Monmouth and Ocean counties, Aliwala was one of eight candidates chosen for the program. Under the program, he passed his ServSafe® Food Handler’s certification examination, gaining employment as a line cook in a local restaurant one day after his graduation.

Over the past several years, Neptune City CRC has networked with the Monmouth County Food Bank’s culinary school, and has a fantastic relationship with Chef Ray Cattley, head instructor in this course. Cattley is supportive in lending a helping hand to the clients in the CRC program. The CRC management and staff also have continued relationships with Director Carlos Rodriguez and Benefits Outreach Worker Debbie Palacious, who processes the applicants for the culinary program.

Previous clients of the Neptune City CRC have obtained perfect attendance at the culinary program and some have even been named valedictorian. To date, eight clients have successfully completed the culinary program, while three were named class valedictorian.

The relationship between Neptune City CRC and the Food Bank of Monmouth County has not only enhanced the relationship between the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission and the New Jersey State Parole Board, it has also provided the center’s clients with the focus and motivation toward achieving their goals. The CRC continues to network with other community organizations to broaden the countless possibilities for their clients.

GEO Reentry Services supports correctional agencies across the United States to provide safe and secure alternatives to detention and reentry services for offenders released to community treatment and supervision. Our services include day reporting programs, in-custody treatment and training, and residential treatment and housing programs.